- Game board
- 28 barons
- 12 knights
- 4 colored chips
- 12 cities
- 4 scoring markers
- 3 empire cities
- 1 round marker
- 1 emperor marker
- 21 action cards,
- 41 victory point cards
- 4 election cards
- 4 summary cards
- 1 start position card
- 1 rule booklet
The game board shows the Thaler track, the Emperor's throne with the Round track, 3 spaces for the victory point cards, and 7 Electorates (upper row: 3 spritual electorates = Archdiocese, lower row: 4 secular electorates).
Object of the Game
Germany in the late middle-ages: the players represent aristocratic families, trying to elevate their claims to the throne. To do this, players collect victory point cards by building cities, being promoted to elector, etc.
The player with the most victory points is the winner!
Each player chooses a color and takes the following: 7 barons, 3 Knights, 3 Cities, 1 Scoring marker, 1 Colored chip, 1 Election card, 1 summary sheet.
Place the following on the game board: 1 Round marker (place this in the upper part of space 1 of the round track). Sort the victory point cards by number and place them on the 3 spaces for victory point cards.
Place the following next to the game board: 1 Emperor marker, 3 empire cities, 1 start position card.
Place the action cards in 13 stacks as shown below. Each stack contains cards of one type. Many stacks have only 1 card. The figure below shows the setup for 4 players. With fewer players, not all action cards are used.
The players choose a starting player. He is the Emperor and takes the Emperor marker. The Emperor places one of the 3 empire cities on the city space of his choice
With the help of the start position card, players place arictocrats on the board. Always place the indicated life stage at the top. This shows the currect age of the aristocrat. The Emperor starts and the others follow in clockwise order.
- The Emperor places one Baron with age 45 on the throne. Each other player places one Baron with age 45 on any empty elector space in an electorate of his choice.
- Each player places one Couple with age 35 on an empty arictocrat space in an electorate of his choice.
- Each player places one Baron with age 25 on an empty arictocrat space in an electorate of his choice.
- Each player places one Couple with age 15 on an empty arictocrat space in an electorate of his choice.
- Each player places one knight on an empty arictocrat or castle space in an electorate of his choice.
- Each player places his scoring marker on space 7 of the Thaler track in the dark area and his colored chip on space 7 of the Thaler track in the light area.
Each player now has four aristocrats and one knight on the board. The preparation represents phases I to III of the first round. Thus, the first round begins with phase IV.
The games lasts for 5 rounds. Each round has 8 phases, that are played in the order shown below:
- New electors
- Elect Emperor
- Emperor actions
- Move round marker
Phases III and IV begin with the Emperor (starting player). The other players follow in clockwise order. In the other phases, player order has no role.
Phase I: Income
In this phase, the players take thalers (income). Players show their total thalers by moving their scoring markers on the Thaler track. The players then move their colored chips to the same level as their scoring markers.
To the amount remaining from the previous round, each player adds:
- 6 thalers basic income
- 1 thaler for each city, that is, for each city of his color on the board.
- 1 thaler for each self-controlled city, that is, for each foreign-colored city that lies in an electorate where the player has the elector.
The Elector from the Duchy of Saxony takes 2 thalers, as the privilege of the elector from Saxony. Empire cities earn no Thalers. A player can have a maximum of 12 thalers. Any amount over that is lost.
Phase II: Aging
In this phase, all aristocrats (Barons and Couples) age by one life stage:
Aristocrats that begin phase II at age 45, are removed due to old age and are returned to the supplies of the corresponding players.
All other aristocrat tiles are rotated 90° in clockwise order.
Should the Emperor tile reach old age, the Emperor player must take one of his aristocrats from the board (but not an elector!) and place it on the throne (the life stage remains unchanged).
If the player has no aristocrat on the board, he takes one from his supply and places it on the throne with life stage 45.
Phase III: Descendants
In this phase, the action cards, which the players have left in their play areas from the previous round, are tallied for descendants. The Emperor player begins and the others follow in clockwise order. The pink cards stand for daughters and the blue cards stand for sons. The scoring goes as follows:
When a player has more blue than pink action cards: he begets a son. Thus, the player takes a Baron tile from his supply and places it with age 15 on any empty aristocrat space in any electorate of his choice.
If all aristocrat spaces in the chosen electorate are occupied, the player may push away one of his or his opponent's knights. The knight is returned to his owner's supply.
Knights may only be pushed away from aristocrat spaces, not from castle spaces. The player then places his baron on the now-empty space.
When a player has as many or more pink than blue action cards: he begets a daughter. The player selects an opponent's unmarried Baron and asks the opponent, if the Baron is interested in marriage.
if the opponent agrees, the player with the daughter earns 1 victory point (takes 1 victory point card value 1). The opponent turns over the Baron to the Couple side (they are now married). The life stage remains the same.
if the opponent declines the offer, the daughter joins a convent and becomes very devout. The player may not make a marriage offer to another Baron. He earns 1 thaler (he moves his scoring marker and colored disc up one space each on the Thaler track).
The player may also choose to send his daughter to the convent instead of offering her in marriage and earn 1 thaler.
If a player has no action cards in his play area, he has no descendants and earns nothing this round.
Phase IV: Actions
In this phase, the players have 3 possibilities:
- Buy and place action cards . The action cards are described on page 6.
- Use the privilege of an elector (those of phase IV).
- Place or move a knight.
The Emperor begins and the others follow in clockwise order. Players may have several turns during the phase.
On each turn, the player uses one of the 3 possibilities or passes. When a player passes, phase IV is over for him. Phase IV ends when all players have passed.
Buy an action card: the player takes 1 action card and places it face up in his play area. The player pays the cost shown on the card by moving his scoring marker down on the Thaler track. Then he takes the action shown on the card or keeps the card until he can use it in the appropriate phase.
Use the privilege of an elector: the player moves his elector to the privilege space in an electorate where he has the elector and takes the privilege of that electorate (see further information on privileges on page 7).
Place or move a knight: the player pays 1 thaler and places a knight from his supply to any empty aristocrat or castle space or moves one of his knights from the board to any empty aristocrat or castle space on the board.
Special rules in phase IV:
When all action cards from a stack have been taken, this action is no longer available in this round (exception: the privilege of the Elector of Trier).
If a player cannot or will not use an action, he may not take the action card, even if he can pay for it.
When a player chooses the action card »rival«, phase IV is over for him.
The action card »knight« remains in the supply. Thus, no player can take the card. This card merely serves as a reminder to players that they can pay 1 thaler to place or move a knight.
The action card »gray eminence« may only be chosen by the Elector of Brandenburg.
All chosen action cards remain in the players' play areas until phase III of the next round, as they will be used for begetting descendants. After begetting descendants, return the action cards to their original positions.
When a player buys an action card, he leaves his colored chip where it was on the Thaler track. This serves to control the paying for actions by the players.
Phase V: New Electors
In this phase, players check each electorate to see if a change in power has occurred, and, if so, who the successor is. This is done as follows:
In each electorate, the players tally the power points of each player. Power points are shown by towers on the game material and the game board. Players get power points for knights, cities (1power point each), and for arictocrats (Baron = 1 power point, Couple = 2 power points).
Each empire city gives 1 power point to the current Emperor.
The player with the most power points in an electorate becomes the elector. When players tie for most power points, the Emperor decides among them who will be the elector in the electorate.
Result 1: power change - a new player becomes elector and immediately takes 2 victory points.
The player sets aside the previous elector. He takes one of his aristocrats from the electorate and places him on the elector space. Then, the previous elector places the set aside elector on an empty aristocrat space in the electorate.
The elector spaces in the Archdioces of Mainz, Koln, and Trier may only be filled with Barons, not with Couples. The player, who places the new elector, takes 2 victory points immediately!
Result 2: the existing player remains as elector and takes no victory points. All remains as it was and no player takes victory points (exception: Archdiocese of Mainz).
If a player has enough power points to push away the existing elector in an electorate, but has no (or no suitable) aristocrat in the electorate to replace the previous elector, the elector space remains empty.
The elector pushed away moves to an empty aristocrat space in the electorate. If there is no empty aristocrat space, he must pash away a knight, if possible (see above). If that is not possible, he returns his Baron to his supply.
As there is no new elector, no player takes 2 victory points and this electorate takes no part in choosing the next Emporer.
Example of a change in power
Red is elector in Brandenburg and has 1 Couple (2 power points) and 1 knight (1 power point) on a aristocrat space, for a total of 3 power points.
Green has 1 Baron (1 power point), 1 Couple (2 power points), 1 knight (1 power point) on a castle space, and 1 city (1 power point) for a total of 5 power points in Brandenburg , while Red has only 3 power points there.
Thus, there is a change of power in Brandenburg and Red must vacate the elector space.
Green chooses his Baron to become elector and moves him to the elector space. Red takes his elector Couple from the elector space, placing them on an empty aristocrat space.
Phase VI: Elect Emperor
In this phase, a new Emperor is elected. However, this happens only if a player took the rival action card in phase IV. Otherwise, this phase is bypassed.
All players take part in the election. The election is run as follows:
First, the players tally how many votes each has in this election. Each elector gives a player 1 vote, the elector of Bohemia gives the player 1 extra vote (total of 2). And, the following action cards may alter a player's number of votes: »Pope«, »church influence«, and »excommunication« (see description of action cards on page 6).
Each player places his election card in his play area with the side »Emperor« or the side »rival« face up, to indicate who he votes for. The players cover their election cards with their hands so their opponents cannot see their votes. Each player casts all his votes for one or the other candidates.
The current Emperor and the rival must each vote for themselves.
Abstaining from voting is not allowed!
When all have chosen and covered their election cards, all votes are revealed and the winner determined.
If the currect Emperor has the same or more votes than the rival, he remains the Emperor!
If the rival gets more votes, he becomes the new Emperor immediately, takes the Emperor marker, and places one of his aristocrats (Baron or Couple) on the throne. He may not move an elector to the throne. If the player has no appropriate aristocrat on the game board to move, he places a Baron with life stage 45 on the throne from his supply.
The player who lost the throne removes his aristocrat from the throne and places it on any empty aristocrat space in the electorate of his choice. If there are no empty aristocrat spaces in the electorate of his choice, he may push a knight away (see above). See also action card »permit« on page 7.
All players who voted for the victor of the Emperor vote, take 1 victory point. The victor himself takes no victory points.
Phase VII: Emperor Action
The current Emperor takes the actions shown in the space below the round marker.
Example: the round marker is in round 2. The Emperor takes 2 victory points and places 1 empire city.
Place or move empire city: the Emperor places an empire city on any empty city space on the board or the Emperor moves an empire city already on the board to a new empty city space on the board.
Phase VIII: Move Round Marker
At the end of the round, the Emperor moves the round marker one space to the right.
End of the Game
The game ends after phase VII of the 5th round. The winner is the player with the most victory points.
When playing with 2 players:
One spiritual and one secular electorate are closed for the game. These are chosen as follows:
Take the 3 doctor action cards. On their backs are pictured the 3 spiritual electorates. Shuffle the cards and choose one. This electorate will be closed for the game.
Take the 4 permit action cards. On their backs are pictured the 4 secular electorates. Shuffle the cards and choose one. This electorate will be closed for the game.
To mark these electorate closed, place one election card on each electorate.
Remove all action cards that have pictures of 3 or 4 heads on their back sides.
The players may buy action cards that they cannot or will not use. They must still pay for the cards. Otherwise, the game is played as with 4 players.
When playing with 3 players:
Remove all action cards that have pictures of 4 heads on their back sides. Otherwise, the game is played as with 4 players.